Backtracking at Rocky Point Park

To some it’s a reprieve from a day of white knuckle terror.  To others it’s an enchanting escape into unknown terrain, with joyful anticipation of what lies beyond the next bend.

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For  centuries, the smaller-than scale-train has been a staple in American amusement parks.   The train ride appeals to all demographics – from train affacinos, to mild ride enthusiasts, to those you need to  chill out after getting their roller coaster fixes.

The earliest known image of a Rocky Point Park miniature train ride is this circa 1906 photo below.  The train took riders around the park’s Shooting Gallery, Forest Casino entertainment building and other attractions.

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When Rocky Point reopened in 1948, following a ten-year hiatus caused by the 1938 hurricane, it debuted with a Kiddieland train ride from National Amusement Devices (NAD) of Dayton, Ohio.  You can see the track and ornamentation in the circa 1949 photo below.

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NAD was world-famous for its Century Flyer brand kiddie trains and roller coaster trains.  Here’s Rocky Point’s Century Flyer in a 1950s brochure photo.

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And here’s a 1950s trade publication ad promoting that model.

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In either 1963 or 1964, Rocky Point added a larger train ride, a NAD 24′ Gauge model named the Rocky Point Express.
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It boarded on the midway to the right of the Skooter pavilion and explored the then-mostly undeveloped side of the park, well behind the midway buildings, and passing the tracks for the Strecco Turnpike Cruises the Hodges Handcars rides.

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In red ink below, I’ve diagramed the approximate route of the train ride over a 1962 aerial photo.  This photo was shot before the train ride was added.

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With the addition of the Flume ride in 1971, the midway expanded deep into the side of the park, putting the park staff to work adjusting and adding to the train track bed accordingly.

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ThompsonTheir hard work resulted in a magnificent ride, taking patrons across a wooden bride…

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…underneath the Skyliner…

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…and up to a section of the Flume.

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In the 1980s, Rocky Point sold its NAD train to Santa’s Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire.  It’s replacement was a Chance C.P. Huntington model, although some former employees have stated that the NAD and Chance trains were both in service for a while, and used together during extremely busy days such as company outings like Texas Instruments.  Below is Rocky Point’s Chance train.

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The landscape around the Rocky Point Express route changed often with midway additions, including the 1984 installation of the Corkscrew coaster.

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Sadly, it’s unknown where the Chance train went after the park auction of April 1996.  However, as of several years ago,  Rocky Point’s former NAD train was listed for sale at $45,000.  Here are some photos of it on a private collector’s property in Southern California.  Apparently, it arrived there after leaving Santa’s Village.

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But let’s not get side-tracked!  If you’re looking for a local reminder of the Rocky Point Express, then Rocky Point State Park is just the ticket!  There, you’ll find sections of the original track bed.

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If you do go exploring for the remains of the Rocky Point Express,  take precautions not to take on passengers of your own – ticks!   Park patrons have reported that the little pests have now annexed those parts of the park.

Here’s an old amusement park map which includes the last route of the train tracks. You can use this as your guide in the state park.

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So our journey aboard Rocky Point’s trains has returned to the station.  Hope you enjoyed the ride!
Bonus

To see my YouTube video about the Rocky Point Express, go here.

To read more about the Rocky Point Express, check out this Rhode Island Ruins post.

 Photo Credits

Mark Thompson

Vicky Allen

Rhode Island Ruins

Paul f. Lynds

Burt Clark

Boston Globe

Anita Cerri Ferla

You Must Be This Tall

midwaymarketplace.com

George LaCross

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